Beaglebone: Analog input

Andrew B. Wright, S. M. ’88, Ph. D.



The analog input system is part of the touchscreen interface.  This is not an obvious place to find it.  Here is TI’s guide.

As an aside, many sensors are being provided which use the I2C interface or the USB interface.  It is becoming a more esoteric need to use the analog input interface.  But, in embedded applications, having a solid analog interface can get you past obstacles, especially if you cannot find an engineered solution that meets your needs.

The system operates on a separate ground and voltage source, so input conditioning to analog signals is important.  Protecting the ADC modules and avoiding saturation are key concerns.

Although the PRU can sample the ADC at a fixed (fast) timing, the ADC can be accessed through the ARM side of the Beaglebone.  The ADC can be set up to automatically sample at a fixed rate and put samples into a buffer.

For initial testing, the ARM will be used.  The ADC can be accessed once the appropriate dtbo file has been loaded.  BB-ADC-00A0.dtbo has been provided in /lib/firmware.See the TI wiki on ADC for much info.

Use the command

echo BB-ADC > /sys/devices/platform/bone_capemgr/slots

to load the fragment and gain access to the ADCs.

The ADCs will be available at


The files, in_voltagex_raw, where x = 0…6, contain the 12 bit binary code for each analog input.

Connect a 1k resistor in series with a 10k potentiometer or a voltage divider (1k and 5k resistors) between the analog power pin (1.8v, P9-32), the analog ground pin (P9-34), and one of the analog input pins (P9-33, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 [AIN0], and 40).  A circuit diagram can be seen in Figure <insert figure here>.  Varying the potentiometer wiper will vary the code in  /sys/bus/iio/devices/iio:device0/in_voltagex_raw.  The voltage divider will give a fixed value that is different from the open circuit reading.

Continuous readings from the ARM:

echo 1 > /sys/bus/iio/devices/iio:device0/scan_elements/in_voltagex_en

echo num > /sys/bus/iio/devices/iio:device0/buffer/length

echo 1 > /sys/bus/iio/devices/iio:device0/buffer/enable (this is now handled by the generic_buffer program)

There is a utility called generic_buffer which makes this easy.  It can be found in the kernel source under tools/iio.  It requires the files, iio_utils.c, iio_utils.h, also found in that directory.  Compile with gcc -o gen generic_buffer.c iio_utils.c.  Run with ./gen -n “TI-am335x-adc -g”.  The ‘-g’ flag makes this triggerless.  In earlier versions of the program, you had to patch out the trigger stuff.  This is no longer necessary.

If all goes well, you should get a stream of floating point numbers, which are actually the 12 bit binary codes read from the ADC4 (if that’s the one you enabled above).

NOTE: P9.33 is connected to AIN4 (in_voltage4_raw).

If you want to see what is going on in BB-ADC, copy /lib/firmware/BB-ADC-00A0.dtbo to your local directory and run

dtc -I dtb -O dts BB-ADC-00A0.dtbo > BB-ADC-00A0.dts

at the command line.  The dts file can be viewed in a text editor (gedit or nano).

The registers governing the ADC are located in section xx of the TRM <insert link>.  A header file to access the registers has been set up here.  <insert link to header page once header file has been created and debugged>

To access the ADC from the PRU, follow the procedure to load code onto the PRU <insert makefile, code snippet for ARM, code snippet for PRU>.

The Touchscreen Controller – Analog to Digital Converter (TSC_ADC) control registers are located at 0x44e0d000 (see Table 2-2. L4_WKUP Peripheral Memory Map in the TRM).

The TSC_ADC DMA section is located at 0x54C0_0000 to 0x54FF_FFFF (see Table 2-1. L3 Memory Map in the TRM).

The CM_WKUP_ADC_TSC_CLKCTRL register (offset 0xbc, reset = 0x30000)  needs to be turned on to make the adc work at all (MODULEMODE=2).  The CM_WKUP registers start at 0x44E0_0400 (see Table 2-2 in the TRM).

Adding an anti-aliasing filter and input protection:

Add to /boot/uEnv.txt … cape_enable=bone_capemgr.enable_partno=BB-ADC

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